Welcome to spring, friends. It’s time to move the living outside and we are here to help. Creating an outdoor room is very similar to an indoor room, and in the spring and summer (and fall depending on where you live) it really increases the square footage and function of your house. I should know.
While some styles want more rigidity and some benefit from being a bit looser, the process of putting it all together doesn’t change. I’ll go step-by-step and show you how we created each look using the exact same method, but tailored to each style (and at the end, I’ll tell you my favorite).
Go Modern With Project 62
To start is the
First off, let’s talk through the elements of the modern look: The furniture is more streamlined (without a lot of ornate detail or extra flourishes), the patterns are more graphic (no florals or paisleys, think stripes and circles), the colors are neutral (less pastels and saturated tones) and the finishes are more refined (glass, metal and not-too-rustic wood).
Now that we know the style indicators, let’s put the room together via my patented (patent-pending?…okay, there’s no patent) eight-step process.
1. Start with your “walls, floors and ceilings.” In the case of this particular space, the plants are the “walls,” the
2. Choose your color palette. In this modern example, as you can guess, it is black, white, gray and neutrals with pops of color (blues, greens, terracotta tones – or really anything that makes you happy). Make sure that if your furniture is just black and white like this that you mix in some wood for warmth. If that
3. Find your “jumping off” piece. This is usually something that is more of a statement that guides the space (usually in interior rooms, it’s the rug or wallpaper). Here, I really wanted/needed that
4. Choose coordinating furniture. Yes, it’s time for a sofa, club chairs, coffee table, side tables and your requisite outdoor bar cart. For a more contemporary look, bring in symmetry with matching or VERY coordinating pieces of furniture. The chairs can match. The
5. Round out the look with lighting. Just like lamps inside, you want to have good exterior ambient lights (not just garage spotlights) to keep people gabbing for hours. We did this here through simple
6. Pick your textiles. Any look or style needs the softness that only textiles can bring. This is your chance to bring in more pattern and color, though, for a more modern look, you’ll want to reduce the variety of colors used (like we did). Keep in mind that you’ll NEED pattern and texture to keep things interesting and inviting with a more neutral palette. I love those
7. Mix in plants and greenery. Now, you may have a backyard that has a ton of plants and if so, feel free to skip this step. But since we were shooting on a patio outside a downtown building, we brought in a lot of plants to give it the warmth and texture that you need outside. It’s like art, sculpture or bookcases inside – you want some pieces to add life and unexpected shapes for your eyes. For this
8. Add accessories and details for extreme party-readiness. For this setup, the bar cart really is the accessory that brings this room into full-on party mode. For the shoot, we stocked it with just about anything you would need for the perfect gin and tonic, and the addition of the metallic elements both on the bar and throughout gives the look that little bit of a pop every party needs.
So there you have it – that’s my 8-step design process, done in a modern aesthetic with 100% Project 62 product from Target.
BUT…because I’m an overachiever, we decided to set up more of a small space dining area from the same collection for all of you who have a smaller space that needs some summer love.
It has a lot of the same vibes as the previous setup but works for a small patio or dining space where you want to create a place to sit and dine even if you don’t have a large area to do it in.
Here are the two get the looks for both the “lounge” and “entertaining” setups. My favorites are
Go Traditional With Threshold
Next up is a more traditional dining look which we created using all
For this one, we wanted to create an alfresco dining experience straight out of a Nancy Meyers movie. The only thing missing is Meryl or Diane.
Before we dive into the eight steps, let’s talk through the elements of this more traditional look: The furniture silhouettes have a bit more of a classic feel, with some curves rather than everything being sleek with modern lines. The patterns are more ornate and organic (like in the rug), the colors are more vibrant and bright (although the tones are still somewhat muted) and the finishes are more rustic (wood, woven rattan, iron).
1. Start with your “walls, floors and ceilings.” Here’s what the means for this space: we creating “walls” with the vines, a “floor” with
2. Choose your color palette. Although your mind might go straight to “neutral palette” when you think of traditional style, our palette here was a bit more colorful, because I’m Emily and I like color. Here’s why it still works: Both of the color tones that we used – blue and orange (I strongly dislike orange so let’s call it rust) – are subtle tones. If we had used anything that felt too bright or poppy, it would have leaned more boho than traditional. The hues of all the colors that we used are toned down and quiet (but feel free to go brighter, you don’t have to stick to muted tones just because you lean traditional). Also, these two colors are opposite on the color wheel, therefore they complement each other perfectly (in general, this is a great starting point for creating a palette – just vary the tones and hues to make sure it doesn’t get too “primary” and pre-school).
3. Find your “jumping off” piece. In this setup, it is the colorful rug that we paired with
4. Choose coordinating furniture. To give this traditional look a bit of a collected feel, we paired a matching
5. Round out the look with lighting. No outdoor dining space is complete without at least a few different types of lighting (this is a good rule to adhere to generally). One type of lighting can end up leaving it dark and flat whereas two can create ambiance. Add in a third and now you’ve got an inviting dining space no one is going to want to leave. Here, we included three different sources of lighting. The first comes from
6. Pick your textiles. You might not think of a dining area as a room with a ton of soft textiles, but they are key to soften all the hard edges of the furniture. They don’t necessarily come in the form of pillows, poufs or throws like in other living spaces, but you can bring in soft textures through
7. Mix in plants and greenery. If your outdoor pergola and dining area are already grown in with lots of flowering bushes and twisted ivy then you are set, but ours was not so we needed to introduce some greenery to break up all the black elements and also create some organic lines in the space. We picked three different varieties of pots (
8. Add accessories and details for extreme party-readiness. In this traditional scene, all of the dinnerware makes this dining setup truly party ready. To keep things informal, we paired a few different items together to create the table setting. We started with
If you want to recreate the space (sans Meryl or Diane, though if you happen to know either, feel free to invite them…AND INVITE US) here is the full get the look:
Go Full-On Eclectic With Opalhouse
For our third setup, we went eclectic using Target’s
1. Start with your “walls, floors and ceilings.” Just like in the other two spaces, we created a “roof” or “ceiling” using an umbrella or pergola. In this one, we did the same using this
2. Choose your color palette. It may look like we went with all the colors on the color wheel here, which, well, we somewhat did, HOWEVER, we made it all work by using poppy jewel tones and softer candy hues. This setup is not about neutrals, but by peppering the colors around the space evenly, it allows them all to work together in an organic way.
3. Choose coordinating furniture. This eclectic setup may not have the traditional furniture you are thinking of (like a couch, chairs or table) but there are still some coordinating furniture elements in here which help it to feel pulled together. We used a natural color on
4. Find your “jumping off” piece. You might think that EVERYTHING here is our jumping off piece, but the umbrella and hammock are what really set the tone for the space. They are playful, textural, fun, and the little details paired with their larger scale makes them feel special.
5. Round out the look with lighting. Unlike the other two setups, this one does not have any overhead lighting; instead, we opted for lanterns scattered throughout the space. Because the majority of the lounging in this one happens lower to the ground, the lanterns keep things feeling intimate and atmospheric; overhead lighting could have distracted from the casual lounge vibe the space was giving off. I love these large-scale lanterns in the collection that come in both
6. Pick your textiles. This one somewhat speaks for itself as the entire space is all about textiles but let’s break it down and talk about where we used them and why it works. Rugs are the foundation for the room and also speak to the layering of textiles that is prominent in the eclectic look. We brought that layering of textiles through in the tabletop, where we layered a runner and napkins on top of each other, as well as in the hanging hammock and chair where we added in pillows and throws to really make them inviting and bring the color up from the floor.
7. Mix in plants and greenery. For this “urban oasis,” we brought in a lot of plant life but kept it all in tonal green shades as the hues of the textiles, rugs and umbrella were where we wanted to center the color. This also puts the focus on all the beautiful outdoor product rather than the plants. Instead, the layered greens help to soften all the hard and modern angles of the space that we were in.
8. Add accessories and details for extreme party-readiness. This space is all about lounging without an agenda, so for the accessories here, we used multiples from different collections to create a boho and eclectic vibe. The plates are mismatched although they all stay the same shape, the colors of the cups are contrasting while the shape and form stay the same, and all of the napkins and silverware are loosely styled on the table rather than set into place settings. All of this evokes that easy-breezy casual vibe.
After we had set these up, Target invited all of their employees over for a little cocktail hour where they could browse the collections, see some of the pieces that they themselves had designed or created and enjoy the afternoon free of emails, distractions or obligations in one of our three worlds.
The event was filled to the brim with Target employees (they estimated it was more than 500 people) and was so much fun. I was able to meet so many amazing people and we had such a fun time.
There were even a few people that brought books from home so that I could sign them for them.
A massive thank you goes out to Target for allowing us carte blanche when creating these collections. Brady and I had so much fun pulling them together – both digitally before we arrived, and then in person once we got to their HQ in Minneapolis. Secondly, we have to give a huge shout out to the ladies at
If you are interested in any of the clothes that I wore for the shoot, here are all of the pieces linked up (although the majority of them are from Target):
Last but not least, here is a little video we pulled together showcasing how we created all three looks.
OH, one last thing before talking favorites – Target is running a sale through Monday, May 28 on their outdoor living and patio products, so if you see anything in this post that speaks to you, make sure to head online or to your local store before Tuesday so you don’t miss out.
Okay, FINALLY, let’s review those setups again (because I have my own favorite and I want to hear yours):
Modern with Project 62:
Traditional with Threshold:
Or, Eclectic with Opalhouse:
Listen, I love all three so much and if they were in my house, I’d likely mix a lot of them together, but if I had to hang out in one space it would be Opalhouse. Opalhouse, even though that set up isn’t the style of my house, looks like a vacation. And I REALLY like vacations. 🙂
So…which one is your favorite?!